What more appropriate place to look for information on wikis than the “Wiki” article on Wikipedia? Wikipedia is probably the best known example of a wiki, but is only one example of what a wiki can do.
Wikis, in the form of Wikipedia, have already affected the classroom. Students often use Wikipedia as a quick way to get information about a subject. This is my favorite way to use Wikipedia – as a jumping off point. While it doesn’t provide cite-able information, it is a great way to figure out what the subject encompasses and what to do more research on.
Outside of Wikipedia, wikis can be used as a powerful tool for collaboration. As a math teacher, I can see using a wiki for a geometry class, where throughout the year, students add entries for theorems they are learning in order to build a comprehensive resource. The wonderful thing about a wiki, especially in a classroom context, is that the students can work off of and correct each other, making the wiki more powerful. I think that this could be a great addition to almost any class. In a literature class, a wiki of character descriptions. In a chemistry class, a wiki of chemical elements and their properties. The possibilities are endless. And student-generated content is much more meaningful than a study guide provided by a teacher.
I was in college when Wikipedia was really beginning to take root, and I’m glad to see that we’ve moved from just yelling at students that Wikipedia is not a legitimate research source to finding ways to incorporate such valuable technology into our classrooms.